In October 2017, “Oscar” left a comment on REDD-Monitor. “I have been contacted by Capital Advisory Group Ireland re my carbon credits,” Oscar wrote.
Five years ago, Oscar was scammed into buying carbon credits as an investment. He’s now on what the scammers call a “sucker list”. These lists consist of names, addresses, phone number, and background information about people who have been scammed. They are traded between boiler room operations, because when someone as been scammed, they are more likely to fall for another scam.
It’s an odd quirk of human nature, as Clinical psychologist Dr Cecilia d’Felice explains,
“Our desire to trust people can be taken advantage of; if we’ve been the target of a scam, we may need to make ourselves feel better by trusting all the more, to reassure ourselves that the world is a good place.”
Oscar is contacted fairly regularly by recovery room scammers claiming to be able to sell his carbon credits. Over the past few years these companies have included China Development Finance Corporation, Carter & Campbell, Blackrock International, and now Capital Advisory Group.
Here’s how Oscar describes the “Capital Advisory Group” scam:
They claim to be agents for a company called Fundbase Fund Services AG in Switzerland. The deal is that Fundbase are looking to buy 5 million carbon credits to sell to the Canadian government. There are two deals, firstly Fundbase can convert my VERS to CERS and will give me 8.6 euros per credit. But I need to inject about 4600 euros to do this. Deal two if I get my credits converted myself they will offer me 3.4 euros.
And here are the red flags:
Oscar received an email out of the blue from “Capital Advisory Group”
Nicola Duffy from the “Capital Advisory Group” sent an email out of the blue to Oscar. “I am writing in hopes of finding the appropriate person who handles the Emission Offset (Carbon Credits) Investment purchased in 2012,” she wrote.
The only possible way that “Capital Advisory Group” could know Oscar’s email address, and that he was scammed into buying carbon credits as an investment, is from a sucker list.
There is no company called “Capital Advisory Group” registered in Ireland
Last week, the Central Bank of Ireland put out a warning against “Capital Advisory Group”
On 30 November 2017, the Central Bank of Ireland put out a warning about an unauthorised company called Capital Advisory Group (Ireland). The warning states clearly that Capital Advisory Group (Ireland) is not authorised by the Central Bank, and that it is a criminal offence for an unauthorised firm to provide financial services in Ireland:
The Central Bank of Ireland (‘Central Bank’) today published the name of an unauthorised firm, The Capital Advisory Group (Ireland). The Capital Advisory Group (Ireland) is not authorised by the Central Bank as an investment firm, investment business firm or to provide investment advice.
A list of unauthorised firms published to date is available on the Central Bank website.
It is a criminal offence for an unauthorised firm/person to provide financial services in Ireland that would require an authorisation under the relevant legislation which the Central Bank is the responsible body for enforcing. Consumers should be aware that, if they deal with a firm/person who is not authorised, they are not eligible for compensation from the Investor Compensation Scheme.
“Capital Advisory Group” cut and pasted text from another website
On its website, “Capital Advisory Group” states that, “Our aim is to assist you in planning your financial affairs in order that you achieve your goals, whatever they may be. We will help you to identify, and plan for, your aims and objectives.”
This is cut and pasted from the website of a Manchester-based company called MGP Investment Management Ltd.
I’m sure there are more examples of cut and pasting on “Capital Advisory Group’s” website. But once is bad enough. Legitimate companies do not cut and paste text from another company’s website.
“Fundbase is not planning to buy any carbon credits”
The email from Capital Advisory Group to Oscar states, “We have a letter of intent from Fundbase AG in Zurich and are building a block of 5 million Units for sale.”
There is a company called Fundbase Fund Services AG. I asked Fundbase whether a Dublin-based company called Capital Advisory Group had been in touch about selling carbon credits. Fundbase replied,
“Fundbase is NOT planning to buy any carbon credits. We have no idea how someone connected us with carbon credits since we are not in that business.”
There is no way of converting VERs to CERs
“Capital Advisory Group” told Oscar that “Fundbase can convert my VERS to CERS. This is nonsense. There is no way of “converting” VERs to CERs.
There are two types of carbon credits: compliance and voluntary:
- Compliance credits or Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) are generated under the Clean Development Mechanism. They can be used to meet targets agreed under the UNFCCC. CERs can be traded on the EU Emissions Trading System. They are currently worth less than US$0.23.
- Voluntary carbon credits, or Voluntary Emissions Reductions (VERs), are generated outside the UN system. The price of VERs has been falling steadily for years. In 2016, it reached an all time low at an average price of US$3.
But VERs cannot be converted to CERs. Even if it were possible, it wouldn’t make any sense, since it would mean converting something worth an average of US$3 to something worth less than US$0.23.
“Capital Advisory Group” wants an advance fee
“Capital Advisory Group” tells Oscar he needs to pay €4,300 to convert his VERs to CERs. That’s an advanced fee, and Oscar would never see the money again. Action Fraud has a page on its website about recovery room scams, with advice for people who have been scammed:
Be ready for fraud recovery scams if you’ve been a victim in the past. Challenge any calls, letters or emails from people you don’t know or companies you’ve never contacted.
If you’re asked to pay, or give your bank account details, end all contact.
Ask how they found out that you had been a victim. Any report of fraud is protected by law and can’t be shared with anyone else outside of law enforcement agencies.
REDD-Monitor has written several posts about recovery room scams. The posts are all pretty similar, as is the advice.
If you are in the UK, and you are contacted by “Capital Advisory Group” (or anyone who claims they can sell your carbon credits, or asks for an advance fee), please contact Action Fraud and the Financial Conduct Authority. Since “Capital Advisory Group” gives an address and a phone number in Dublin,
If you are contacted by “Capital Advisory Group” please report them to the Central Bank of Ireland and the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau.